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Baker's Dozen

Curiosity, Community, Cacophony: Helm's Baker's Dozen
Mat Colegate , November 17th, 2021 12:56

Helm, aka Luke Younger, takes us through the 13 records that shaped his prolific career, from a teenage love of Manic Street Preachers and Therapy? to chance encounters with Bob Tilton and John Luther Adams


Zoviet France – Just An Illusion

Again, this feels like something I should have been influenced by before. A lot of those ‘90s Zoviet France records got reissued last year. I could really have picked any of them because I was listening to all of them and they’re all amazing. This one in particular is the one that I’ve ended up coming back to the most for some reason. There’s so much in what they’re doing on this record that appeals to me and the way I make music.

Also their discography is so vast yet none of it is really online. Unless you’re in those weird little places where you can find noise and improv CDs that were released in the ‘90s you’re not really going to come across them very often. So now when it’s being re-released there’s a new context for it almost. It’s weird, I’ve played gigs with Zoviet France and seen them live, but only now that I’ve been able to listen to their music have I come to realise how important they are, and how much of what they did with their music has come through in what I’ve done.

They seem to use these not quite acoustic sounds. Not quite field recordings, but these earthy, organic sounds that are processed, and that’s something that I really like doing with my own music. I like using that kind of source material. It’s interesting thinking how a lot of this music was made as well, whether it was all performed in real time as improvisations or whether there was any studio post-production going on. It’s difficult to tell. It has this very ritualistic, in-the-moment feel to it.

Is that in-the-moment feel something you enjoy when you’re making music?

I’d say more so when I was involved with Birds of Delay (Younger’s early noise duo with Steven Warwick AKA Heatsick). Early explorations into noise music were often communal affairs, so there would be three of you in a room responding. I favour more of a composed and edited approach now, but it was really important to do that in terms of getting to the point where I wanted to be. It’s character building at the end of the day.

It’s something I feel is kind of lacking now with a lot of electronic music. A lot of it seems like people are learning production off YouTube and stuff like that, which is fine but it seems to create this scene of people that are essentially making music as their advertising cards for corporate sound design work. It sounds overproduced and lacks some of the grit. I think that really comes with how contemporary music production is all about plug-ins and stuff in the box. It’s lacking in atmosphere. I think it’s nice hearing people make mistakes sometimes.